This splendid vacation showcases France’s exciting scenery, history, and culture as you sail along its beautiful rivers. Embark in Paris and head northwest along the Seine River up to the picturesque Normandy region. Dock at Vernon and choose between a guided visit of Claude Monet’s stunning gardens at Giverny or remarkable Bizy Castle. Continue to Les Andelys—home of Château Gaillard, built by England’s King Richard the Lionheart in 1196. Then, on to Caudebec, where you choose one day between an excursion along the Thatched Cottages Route or the Normandy Abbeys Route and the second day between an excursion to the poignant Normandy landing beaches or a Taste of Normandy. Visit Joan of Arc’s historic Rouen, and in Conflans, choose between a guided excursion to Vincent van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s elegant Château de Malmaison. Back in Paris, you have a choice of guided sightseeing that includes Notre Dame, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, and Eiffel Tower or a Heart of Paris walk. Disembark and ride the TGV train to Dijon, then travel south to fascinating Beaune for a wine tasting or visit of the Hôtel-Dieu. In Chalon-sur-Saône, board your second cruise ship and sail on to medieval Tournus, the twin cities of Tournon and Tain l’Hermitage, Viviers, Avignon, and Arles, as well as France’s gastronomic capital of Lyon, where you have time to explore this fascinating city. Before disembarking in Arles, sail into the peaceful Camargue area (daylight permitting), then arrive on the stunning Cote-d’Azur—the famed French Riviera for your Monograms extension. We’ve arranged your transfer, hotel reservations, daily breakfast, sightseeing with local experts, a high-speed train transfer from Aix-en-Provence to Nice, transfers from/to your hotels to/from the train stations, and more. Plus, we know you are not familiar with the cities, so we’ve arranged the services of Local Hosts®—a “friend in the city” to answer questions, share inside information, help you arrange your activities and excursions, and be there to help you feel comfortable in each city. The next morning, after an included breakfast, we’ll pick you up at your hotel for guided sightseeing with an expert Local Guide. You’ll walk along the 17th-century Cours Mirabeau, a lively area with fountains, elegant homes, and famous cafés, and you’ll visit the Cathedral of the Holy Savior, known for its mishmash of architectural styles. This was Cézanne’s hometown, and in your free time, you may want to take a tour following in his footsteps. Perhaps take an excursion to Cassis with an included cruise, soak in Aix-en-Provence’s healing thermal baths, or shop for lavender and other local specialties. Finally, we’ll whisk you via high-speed TGV train to Nice. Here, guided sightseeing with a local expert includes a walk through the Old Town and the Promenade des Anglais, Nice’s most famous boulevard. In your free time, you may want to take an excursion to Monaco, to St. Tropez, or to Cannes, known for its famous film festival. Your Local Host will be able to help you arrange any of these activities and excursions, as well as provide you with suggestions for the best places to sample the local specialties.
Cruise: deluxe 14-night cruise in an outside stateroom with Avalon’s exclusive Comfort Collection BedsSMDay 1 Paris (Embarkation): welcome receptionDay 2 Vernon–Les Andelys: choice of excursions to Giverny or Bizy Castle; guided walk in Les AndelysDay 3-4 Caudebec: choice of excursion along either the “Thatched Cottages Route” or the “Normandy Abbeys Route”; choice of excursions to Normandy landing beaches or “A Taste of Normandy”Day 5 Rouen: guided sightseeing, see the Astronomical Clock and visit the cathedralDay 6 Conflans: choice of excursions: visit Auvers-sur-Oise or Château de MalmaisonDay 7 Paris: choice of guided sightseeing or “Heart of Paris” walkDay 8 Paris (Disembarkation)–Dijon–Beaune–Chalon-sur-Saône (Embarkation)–Tournus: TGV train from Paris to Dijon. Motorcoach transfer to Beaune, choice of Hôtel-Dieu visit or Burgundy wine tasting in Beaune; onboard welcome receptionDay 9 Tournus: guided sightseeing of Tournus, see the abbey of St. Philibert; cheese tastingDay 10 Lyon: guided sightseeing; picture stop on Fourvière HillDay 11 Lyon: a day to explore this fascinating city at leisureDay 12 Tournon/Tain l’Hermitage–Viviers: guided walk in Tournon; guided walk in Viviers, visit the Old Town and the cathedralDay 13 Avignon: guided sightseeing, visit Palace of the PopesDay 14 Arles: guided sightseeing in Arles, visit the Roman Amphitheater; sail into the Camargue region (daylight permitting)Day 15 Arles (Disembarkation)–Aix-en-Provence: travel by motorcoach to Aix-en-ProvenceAix-en-Provence & Nice: 4 nights hotel accommodation with buffet breakfast (B); Monograms Local Host Service & Destination Guides with city maps; sightseeing with a Local Guide, inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE; high-speed TGV train (first-class) from Aix-en-Provence to Nice; transfers to/from train stations.
Captain’s welcome & farewell receptions with sparkling wine and canapésWelcome dinnerDaily Afternoon TeaDaily Night FareFarewell dinnerComplimentary sparkling wine with breakfast; soft drinks with lunch; and wine, beer, or soft drinks with dinner are included daily on board your vesselBuffet breakfast daily in Provence
NOTES:The Seine section of departure March 22 is offered as an exclusive Culinary Cruise, including special lectures and tastings at no additional cost. Enter a food-lover’s paradise in northern France. At a special dinner, a local chef will dazzle you with regional specialties and food preparation tips. If you participate in our “Taste of Normandy” excursion, there’ll be cider and wine tastings, a visit to a distillery, and you’ll even come away with easy-to-make recipes. Bon Appétit!The Saône/Rhône section of departures October 18 & 22 are offered as exclusive Wine Appreciation Cruises, including special lectures and tastings at no additional cost. Your palate will applaud as you learn what to look for in a good wine. A distinguished wine authority will teach you the ropes as you visit a wine village and attend tastings to test your newfound talent.The Seine section of departure July 12 is offered as an exclusive Art & Impressionist Cruise, including special lectures and features at no additional cost. Experience scenic northern France as you explore one of Paris’ art museums, the gardens of Giverny, Château d’Auvers in Auvers-sur-Oise, and Rouen’s cathedral, and attend onboard art lectures from a local art expert!In the event of water level problems or any problems of a technical nature, it may be necessary to operate the itinerary by motorcoach or to alter the program.Included visits and special features are subject to change. If a change becomes necessary, a substitute will be offered.In the event that the TGV is unavailable due to strikes or technical reasons, the transfer from Paris to Dijon will be operated by motorcoach.